Nissan is beginning road tests of autonomous vehicles … for riders in driverless vehicles.
In partnership with DeNA Co. (the Tokyo-company that develops and operates a broad range of mobile and online services including games, e-commerce, entertainment, health care and automotive, among others), Nissan created Easy Ride — a mobility service using autonomous vehicles to get riders to pre-set destinations (the service would travel between popular pedestrian centres, at which people could easily visit a choice of venues).
During the field test in Yokohama, the cars will travel between Nissan’s global headquarters and the World Porters shopping centre, a set route that spans 4.5 km.
Passengers can use a dedicated mobile app to input (via text of voice) their choice for what they are looking for (restaurants or cafes, example) and will be presented with a list of recommended places or events in the vicinity. As an incentive, about 40 coupons for retailers and restaurants in the area will be sent to the users’ smartphones.
The two companies expect the service to enhance local economies, by helping riders to discover and explore new local destinations.
For the passengers’ peace of mind, and for fleet logistics, Nissan and DeNA will set up a monitoring centre to make sure their respective technologies are performing as they should be.
On completion of their journeys, passengers will be asked to complete a survey to detail their user experience (including their usage of available content and the downloaded retailer coupons), and what they would be willing to pay as a consumer of the service.
The information will be used to fine tune the service and develop it for widespread use, including expanded service routes, vehicle distribution, pick-up/drop-off processes, and multilingual support (among others).
The field test will start March 5, with Nissan and DeNA aiming to launch the Easy Ride service running in a limited environment initially, leading up to full service in 2020.